Sovereignty, Power, and Human Rights Treaties: An Economic Analysis

Pae, JoonBeom | January 1, 2007

A state has the authority to determine its human rights policy, and such power is part of a state’s sovereignty assets. Misuse of ‘human rights control’ generates negative externalities beyond mere altruistic concerns, and such externality problems can be solved either by creating an efficient market or by institutionalizing a global treaty regime. Relying on the notion of behavioral sovereignty, this note analyzes how the power of the states affects the international political market where a state’s legal sovereignties are traded, and discusses how the availability of military action changes this analysis. This note argues that the international political market is an economically efficient method for solving human rights problems and that current human rights treaties have played a significant role in reducing transaction costs, thus making the market approach cheaper than military action or institutionalization.